Time for a ten dollar answer

Posted on June 18th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 4 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Ernest Hemingway was known for his minimalist style and he used to pooh-pooh what he called “ten-dollar” words. Not to compare myself with Hemingway but I love strange and exotic expressions, so you’ll forgive me I’m sure when I say that public and private provision of social care has developed into a dichotomy which increasingly challenges our ideas of social justice.

A recent report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies says adult social care spending has fallen by 9% per person over the past decade, with cuts varying around the country but tending to be larger in more deprived areas. Over the same period growing demand has seen fees in private pay care homes, mainly in the southern half of England, steadily increase and corporate providers have been building enthusiastically, again mainly in the southern half of England, to meet this growing demand.

High school economics taught us that when demand exceeds supply, price increases and obviously, some of the demand will not be met; in other words some people are going to miss out. Now this might be OK when we’re talking about ice cream cones (which is the example my economics teacher used) but leaving social care to unregulated market forces and cutting public spend on social care during a period of growing demand is a pretty stark indication that social justice is well down the list of this government’s priorities.

Frail elderly and other vulnerable people up and down the country are being left to make do as best they can, which is a shame because I’m sure that if we were asked, we the people would countenance a greater proportion of Treasury spend going to social care.

It’s a “ten dollar” issue and Green papers, White papers, Royal Commissions and reports from commissioned luminaries are a dime-a-dozen.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

4 responses to “Time for a ten dollar answer”

  1. Bob Ferguson says:

    Never forget that the Treasury can only give out what it collects in taxation. “We the people” shouldn’t wait to be asked if it’s OK for the Chancellor to give a dollop more to social care. No, we should make it abundantly clear in our contribution to the forthcoming national conversation on public funding that “we the people” are willing to pay more – be it tax on our income, dividends, profits and/or wealth. Though we might also have a proviso or two about who pays what. To continue the pecuniary theme, we – all of us – must give the Government the benefit of our two penn’orth.

  2. geoff says:


    I must respond to this. I seriously considered making just that point. We have, in fact been polled several times, and we have responded that, yes, we are willing to pay more. What we have not been asked (and should be) , is whether government should spend a greater proportion of the tax-take on social care.

  3. It was frustrating to see social care – along with public health and workforce issues – specifically excluded from the NHS funding increase announced at the weekend. Theresa May claimed there would be a Green Paper ‘in due course’: let’s hope this means before the summer recess.

  4. Bob Ferguson says:


    Who precisely are the “we” in question? I must have been away when the question(s) was put. But do tell more.

    I read that pollsters have said that we, the British public, are willing to cough up more for the NHS, but social care doesn’t tend to get a mention. I’m also told, regularly, how people of my age group think and vote. Since the latter is absolute nonsense, forgive me if I don’t have much confidence in the former either.

    The point really isn’t just a generalised willingness to pay more, it’s about making a specific commitment to lay one’s total wherewithal on the line, and doing so unambiguously. And believe me, the “wealth” element could be critical.

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